The HS2 railway line has been given the formal approval to extend northwards from Birmingham to Crewe – the Phase 2a of the project.
Crewe is a major railway junction for the north of England, and connects to the existing mainline to North Wales, Liverpool and Glasgow. The Parliamentary approval also means the 36-mile extension will be built earlier than originally planned, with the opening now planned to coincide with Phase One between London and the West Midlands.
Once operational, high-speed services operating between London, Birmingham and Crewe will use the newly-constructed railway, then joins the existing rail network to create direct services to places including Liverpool, Preston, Carlisle and Glasgow.
Crewe is also the station for connections to North Wales and Shrewsbury.
Construction of the extension will require 17 new viaducts, 36 embankments, 65 bridges, 26 cuttings and 2 tunnels, and will see 78 hectares of native broadleaved woodland be planted.
Once open, HS2 2a will carry six services per hour, freeing up the West Coast Mainline between Lichfield and Crewe.
As HS2 will take intercity traffic off the existing railways, it should see capacity double on lines between Crewe and Stoke-on-Trent to Nuneaton, Tamworth, Lichfield and Rugeley. It should also enable more services from Crewe to Runcorn and Liverpool, as well as via Crewe between North Wales, Chester and London.
Related to the announcement, there is a local consultation that recently opened to look at reopening closed railway lines and stations in the region that could make us of the additional rail capacity to improve regional rail services.
Being not just capacity for more trains, the HS is high-speed, so they expect a journey from Glasgow to London to be around 44 minutes faster, from Manchester to London to be a quarter faster at 90 minutes, and a journey from Crewe to London to be under an hour (34 mins faster).